Increasing tourism flows to Greece this year helped boost coastal shipping activities, but much more needs to be done, said Michael Sakellis, the president of the Greek Shipowners Association for Passenger Ships (SEEN), which this year marks its 100-year anniversary.
In an interview to the Athens News Agency (ANA-MPA), Sakellis said that compared to 2020, passenger traffic in 2021 increased by 30 percent, the number of cars was up by 32 percent and trucks by 11 percent. However, compared to pre-pandemic 2019, passenger traffic is still low, he said, down by 40 percent and by 53 percent over 2020, cars by 15 percent and trucks by 12 percent.
Sakellis attributes the increase in traffic this year compared to 2020 to the Cyclades islands and less so to other island routes.
“We still have a long way to go to achieve 2019 levels, which is the goal for both tourism and coastal shipping traffic, including routes to the Adriatic,” he said.
At the same time, Sakellis underlined that the rise in 2021 revenues is not enough to cover the rising fuel costs forecast for this year. “Therefore we are not expecting differences in the loss-making results in relation to 2020,” he said.
“Compared to 2020, the cost of fuel is today nearly double and we expect a 35 percent rise on average in 2021,” he said.
Sakellis also referred to the challenges ahead for the coastal shipping sector, which besides the need for upgraded port infrastructure, include the renewal of fleet and the adaptation of ships to new environmental regulations.
“These two issues are very serious and will affect developments,” he said. “Due to the island character of our country, these issues are of particular importance and must be addressed seriously and carefully in steps on both national and European levels,” he said.